Earlier this year Stevenage Borough Council asked the local community to share their thoughts on how they would like to see the soon to-be-vacant bus station on Danestrete transformed. Almost 300 people responded with their views, with a wide range of ideas that will help to transform this space in the heart of the town centre.
We asked people to complete a survey which included sharing views on what leisure activities, events and food facilities should be provided in the space. There was support for music performances with other suggestions for a community area including dance shows, comedy performances, markets, parks and art exhibitions. A high proportion of those who responded would like to see ice skating or roller skating as part of the leisure offering, with other ideas including arcade games and community yoga.
The majority of respondents would like to see street food on offer.
In response to feedback, the planning application submitted features a large multi-purpose events space at one end, surrounded by seating and canopies. This will allow spectators to enjoy the area in most weathers, including impromptu performances. We recognise the importance of this being an active space even without events, and so green space, seating and lighting are proposed to act as a ‘pop-up park’ with informal play features and natural seating areas that face the performance area.
The planning application for the scheme has been submitted to the local planning authority. If approved, construction works are expected to begin in the summer.
Cllr Sharon Taylor OBE, Leader of Stevenage Borough Council said: “Providing active spaces for our communities in the heart of the town centre is important to us. Not only are we building on what we already offer in the town, but we will be providing an area that people can enjoy throughout the year with a range of activities for everyone. 82% of people who responded to the survey would like to see new facilities in the space, highlighting the need for this area to be transformed.”
Cllr John Gardner, Executive Portfolio Holder for Regeneration & Environment at Stevenage Borough Council said: “I would like to thank everyone who shared their views with us. This is an important space for the town and we want to continue to work together as we move these designs forward. Stevenage town centre is going through a really exciting period of change, and the work we are doing on this particular site reflects our community spirit and will increase the time people spend in the town centre, in turn supporting our businesses”.
The number of new elements in the space will be limited where possible to make the designs sustainable. We are aiming to retain and relocate the elements in the space where possible. This includes utilising the existing trees on site and working with the SDS service to see whether we can use recycled elements in our proposed design.
The current station will close when the new Bus Interchange opens and the council will be delivering a first phase of works to begin to transform the area to provide a very different look and feel. Although the wider redevelopment of the current bus station site will happen later as part of the SG1 masterplan, when these works begin in full we would like some of these ideas to be integrated into the permanent scheme.